I’ve already written an article about songs that are based on or inspired by movies. But are there any songs that are based on or inspired by TV shows? You better believe it. Some really big hit songs have referenced TV shows either explicitly or obliquely. Most of the songs that seem to be really dedicated to being about TV shows have not found their way onto the Billboard charts however. And in a few of these cases it is not difficult to figure out why.
Floyd the Barber: Nirvana
Mayberry is brought back to life grunge-style in one of Nirvana’s songs that never quite found its way into the mainstream. “Floyd the Barber” is, of course, titled after the idiosyncratic hair cutter whose business was situated next to the Mayberry jail. Opie, Barney, Aunt Bee and Sheriff Andy Taylor all show up in the lyrics. Those lyrics are not ones I would dare reproduce here as this song is inspired by the characters on the TV show “The Andy Griffith Show” by way of a Twilight Zone-esque relocation to Twin Peak.
Laura Palmer: Bastille
Unlike “Laura Palmer” in which the group Bastille uses a song inspired by a TV show to plunk you right down in the original setting. Oddly enough, despite the song sounding like something that might have been featured in the TV show, the lyrical content is far less dark than Nirvana’s song inspired by a 1960s TV show weirdly disconnected from the darkness of the Vietnam War, civil rights protests and the countercultural revolution.
Ralph Wiggum: Bloodhound Gang
Inspired more by a particular character on “The Simpsons” than the song itself, this driving rock tune is a host of references to Ralph Wiggum sure to please any fan of the show. In fact, I named “Ralph Wiggum” as one of my ten best songs of the first decade of the 21st century. If you are familiar with Chief Wiggum’s special son, you will smile with recognition throughout the song as it references moments in Ralphie’s life such a seeing a dog in the air conditioning vent, trying out for Fallout Boy, dressing up as Idaho, seeing pyromaniacal leprechauns and becoming a pop sensation.
Doctorin’ the Tardis: The Timelords
Every time I heard that riff from “Rock and Roll (Part Two)” that it seems is mandatory at every single sporting event in America, I softly sing to myself the lyrics “Doctor Who-oo…Doctor Who!” instead of “Rock and roll-ol…rock and roll!” Maybe you had to be listening to college radio in the America of 1988 to be at all familiar with this parody hit from England. Of course, this was before the Americanization of the Doctor, so maybe that’s why it was not a big hit. All’s I know is that “Doctorin’ the Tardis” is what I think of every time they play that Gary Glitter song at every single sporting event in America. You won’t learn much about Doctor Who from the lyrics, but who cares.
Mr. Spock: Nerf Herder
Nerf Herder takes their name from an insult delivered in “Star Wars” but one of their best songs is about the iconic Vulcan character on “Star Trek.” “Mr. Spock” is actually a first-person song from a guy who is complaining that his girlfriend wants some shiny black-haired green-blooded dude who is more than human. Nerf Herder takes on the concept of writing a song inspired by a TV show to masterful heights combining irresistible music with clever lyrics.